Alaska Airlines Drops Mask Mandate for their Flights, Others to Follow

Not even 3 hours past the court order in Florida removing the federal mask mandate, Alaska Airlines becomes the first airline in the United States to drop their mask mandate. They’ve even gone so far as to make an official press release on the subject.

You can tell that this newsroom post of theirs was sitting in Draft mode in their newsroom for quite some time. Here’s the official release from the Airline.

It has been a long 24 months with nearly constant change. I could not be prouder of our frontline employees who have handled every pivot focusing on safety and the care we’re known for,” said Max Tidwell, VP of safety & security at Alaska Airlines. “We’re also thankful for our guests who remained considerate, patient and stood by us throughout every twist and turn.” 

There are reports of flight attendants actively encouraging passengers to not wear their masks as it is no longer a requirement on flights. 

It’s Not Over Yet…

To be clear, the threat or the coronavirus is far from behind us. Yes, we have vaccines and yes we have masks, but well over 30% of the population of the United States still has yet to be vaccinated, and many are yet to be boosted. We’re still running at well over 35,000 cases per day on a rolling 7 day average, so now is not the time to let your guard down.

My fear is that many of the flight attendants and pilots will catch Covid and then we will experience more delays. Just over the past couple of weeks, Alaska had to cancel hundreds of flights due to a pilot shortage. Pair contract negotiations with sick-outs or calling out for health issues and you have the potential for flight delays.

The Irony

I find the irony in Alaska Airlines being the first to drop the mandate heavy. So thick, in fact, because they’re the airline that produced a “Safety Dance” music video showing how they were bringing “next level care” to their airline, and that they truly cared about their employees and passengers. Even suggesting that those passengers who don’t wear masks can find a different airline.

What about previously banned passengers?

You may remember that some airlines banned passengers for not wearing masks in violation of the airline’s rules and federal mandates. From the airline, it’s quite possible that these passengers will remain on the blacklist, but the wording from the airline leaves some wiggle room.

Throughout the last two years, we have relied on reporting from agents and flight attendants to ban noncompliant guests from traveling while the federal mask policy remained in effect. Based on our reports, we will have some guests whose behavior was particularly egregious who will remain banned, even after the mask policy is rescinded.  

Which Airline is Next?

There’s no telling when Delta, Southwest Airlines, American and United Airlines will follow, but you can imagine it’s going to be soon. We’ve all seen videos of people getting in fights over face masks, so I imagine that will be coming soon.

For now bring your mask to the airport in case your airline requires it, but if you’re one of those who was hoping and praying for the airlines to drop their requirements, you might not need it on your next flight.

 

Author: Jon Nickel-D'Andrea

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